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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Bill Maher

Aired August 14, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Bill Maher is back.

BILL MAHER, HOST OF HBO'S "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Any country that lets me run my mouth the way I do in public deserves to be saved. I'm trying.


KING: One day after Karl Rove's abrupt exit, what's America's most controversial comic have to say about Bush's brain walking away?

What's he think of Don Imus settling his $120 million lawsuit with CBS and reports Michael Vick may now cop a plea on those dog fighting charges?

Bill Maher, always outspoken, always outrageous, always hilarious -- taking on the news and taking your calls as only he can.

He's next on "LARRY KING LIVE".

He's one of our favorite guests.

We will include your phone calls. He's Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher," which returns to HBO on Friday, August 24th.

And, frankly, we can't wait. It's one of the best shows on television.

His current stand-up special on HBO is "The Decider." And what an hour that was.

And he's a "New York Times" best-selling author.

"Real Time" returns August 24th.

The big news of the day, Karl Rove.

What do you make of it?

The brain is gone.


The brain? KING: That's what they call him, Bush's brain.

MAHER: Yes, I understand. Boy, if I...

KING: I thought it was the title of the book, "Bush's Brain."

MAHER: If I had -- if I was Karl Rove, I'd want to be known as any other part of the body than that with George Bush -- Bush's esophagus. Bush's kidney would be better.

Well, you know, I think that's saying something about the administration, that they're probably giving up the fight at this point.

I mean why should he stay around?

His legacy is only that he elected people. You know, I think we talked about this once before. Karl Rove once said, when he was back in Texas, when he first was looking over the field and he saw a young George Bush, and he said could I make him president. He didn't say he should be president or there's a guy who could serve the country. He said I could make him president. And I think that says a lot.

KING: In the annals, though, of election coverage, election stories, is Karl Rove a genius?

MAHER: A genius?

Well, he midwived the most disastrous president we've ever had.

Does that make him a genius?

If you measure success by what he specifically did, which was getting people elected, that's what he was. He wasn't really a policy guy, even though he had an office close to the president in the White House and I guess he did talk about policy. But that's because in this White House politics was always policy.

But as far as what he did, getting people elected, yes, he was very successful at doing that.

But I don't think he was successful in the larger realm of was he good for the country?

I mean this is the guy who expanded the parameters of what's acceptable. So much of what the Bush White House did, if it wasn't exactly illegal, it was beyond what anybody had ever thought to do. When he said that Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, was fair game -- fair game?


Outing a CIA agent, that's fair game?

They really moved the goal posts. The Alberto Gonzalez situation, the U.S. attorneys, another one of those Bush scandals that's so hard to decipher because it's not easy, black and white -- somebody had sex with somebody, we get that. But I think what people need to understand, if they're not going to follow the whole thing, is that what they did there, by politicizing the Justice Department, was unprecedented. Yes, other presidents did fire U.S. attorneys. They fired all of them when they came into office. Clinton did it. They all did it. You bring in your own team.

But none of them did what these guys did, which was in the middle of the term, fire a tenth of the U.S. attorneys. It would be like purging 50 people out of the Congress -- 50 people from your own party, your own party, who are not loyal enough.

I mean think about that. These were Republican attorneys who were not loyal enough for George Bush.

KING: I'm told we have a King cam question. It's the person on the street.

MAHER: I love the King cam.

KING: It relates to what we're talking about.

Go King cam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What, if any, interaction do you think Karl Rove will have with the White House in the future?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to know if, now that Karl Rove is resigned, if he is going to be a big influence in the next election?

KING: Two good questions.

MAHER: Yes, I think his influence will live on. I'm sure that there are -- I saw an article in the paper today saying there was a lot of people he brought up who thought that they could follow in his footsteps and bring smearing to the next level.


MAHER: Yes. I think you see it, for example, with immigration. There's a real Karl Rove issue, a wedge issue. One of those...

KING: Will he get involved in the campaign for the presidency once a nominee is chosen?

MAHER: If I was Karl Rove, I think I'd want to sit this one out, because I don't think it looks too good for the Republicans this time, and he can retire.

KING: He lost last time.

MAHER: Yes. Right. And I think he can say, well, I got George Bush elected twice and now it's somebody else's game to lose, because I certainly wouldn't want to be responsible for the Republican field this time.

KING: When Dick Cheney was on this show about a month ago and I referred to the president's unpopularity, the vice president said Lincoln was unpopular, Washington did unpopular things, Truman, maybe the most unpopular president in American history, turned out to be right.

How do you react to that when they say they...

MAHER: Well...

KING: ...we may judge them wrong now, they may turn out to be right?

MAHER: It's an easy argument to make, because you can't disprove it. It's like saying, well, I wore the green socks again today and I didn't get cancer.

Yes, you know, sometimes a president is unpopular in his term and it turns out that he's doing the right thing in the future. I'll give you another example -- John F. Kennedy. Civil rights. It was not a very popular thing, certainly in the South, to send troops and to make sure that black kids could go to school down there. But I think that's going to be proved to be a different case than what he's talking about, which is Iraq. Sometimes a blunder is just a blunder.

KING: Iraq will never be right?

MAHER: Well, I don't know what it's going to be like in 100 years.

KING: Let's say 20.

MAHER: I don't think so. I think what we did was we took a situation that was manageable, which is there are certain -- there was a certain small percentage of crazy, religious Islamics who wanted to kill us. They didn't like us too much to begin with. Israel bothered them a lot.

But then when we had troops in the holy land, that was just a bridge too far. So they started to attack us and they ramped it up. And finally we had a real attack on 9/11.

OK. That was bad.

But we could have gone after that in a way that didn't make it much, much worse. That's what they did by going into Iraq.

See if this analogy makes sense. There are certain types of cancer that you can't operate on them, because it just makes it worse. I remember, because my father had it. Lung cancer is one of them.

OK. That's what we had with these Islamic nuts over there, bin Laden and his crew. That was a cancer. But by operating, by opening up the chest cavity, we spread it and made it a lot worse.

KING: Afghanistan was right.

MAHER: Afghanistan was right. Exactly. But we have spread this situation to the point where you look at the people now who hate us -- doctors in Great Britain. It's gotten to the point where doctors are against us. Black guys hanging around in Miami -- that crowd in Liberty, Miami who was going to blow up the Sears Tower. You know, these are just plots.

But -- the people in Fort Dix, New Jersey. They were Serbian or Albanian or something.

We've taken a situation where there was a small amount of people who were out to get us and made it into a situation where basically anyone who has heard the name Allah is grumbling about us and thinking about going after us.

KING: Bill Maher is our guest.

We'll include your phone calls.

He's always special to us.

And we'll be right back with more.

Don't go away.


MAHER: I swear to god, a couple of weeks ago, he was defending his legacy and he said, "They're still debating our first president. No, they're not.

Who's debating whether George Washington was a good president?

He's on the one. He's on Mount Rushmore. They named the capital after him. I think the jury is in on this guy. I do.




MAHER: This Iraqi Army, the not ready for primetime fighters, they're never going to stand up because they don't care about Iraq. They care about Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq has only been a country since 1932. Paul Newman is seven years older than Iraq.


KING: One of the great lines of all time, Paul Newman is seven years -- all right staying with Iraq.

OK, I'll lump this all in one question.

The surge, the status report from the general, the war czar saying today we may -- we may have a draft.

Put that all into one lump question -- where is Iraq going?

MAHER: Well, the surge is working is what I keep hearing. And if you say it enough, you know, Americans will believe anything if you just keep saying it and saying it and saying it.

I guess we're all waiting for the magical General Petraeus to make his comments in about, what is it, a month from now, September 15th?

KING: Right.

MAHER: OK. Look, I don't think what he's going to say is hey, the war is lost and I'm voting for Kucinich.


MAHER: I'm out. But even if he did say that, what would Bush do?

He'd give him the Medal of Freedom, he'd take the report, he'd throw it in the garbage and he'd get back on his mountain bike and things would go back to what they had been...

KING: So no matter what Petraeus says, we'll have...

MAHER: Well, Petraeus is going to say we're making progress.

But where are we making progress?

Yes, we're making progress militarily. Of course, if you put 30,000 new troops in there and they stay there, yes, there's going to be less violence, just the way mommy stops getting hit by daddy when the police come to the house and they're standing on the front porch.

KING: A hundred and twenty-four killed today, I think, in a suicide bombing.

MAHER: Yes. Yes, it's -- it's -- see, and that's another thing that bothers me about this conflict. And the media really is culpable about this, because they don't really examine the words that they're using.

Remember a few months ago, we had three soldiers kidnapped.

KING: Uh-huh.

MAHER: And I kept hearing on the news that three American soldiers had been kidnapped by terrorists.

Well, first of all, they're soldiers.

Can they really be kidnapped?

Isn't that something that happens to civilians? And the words that we use to describe the people that we're fighting over there -- terrorists, insurgents, the enemy. Gunmen I hear. Gunmen. Well, we're kind of gunmen, too.

Aren't they men with guns?

I have a real problem the way Bush lumps the peo -- he said it recently. He said we're fighting the people who attacked us on September 11th because now they're called Al Qaeda in Iraq. Well, that's just a flat out lie.

You know, there's one thing, if you want to say OK, there's some people, 19 guys attacked my country and purposefully hit a building with civilians in it. But now we're in somebody else's country that didn't attack us.

You mean those are the same people?

Those are also terrorists?

You know, I'm not saying these guys are George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, but in the analogy of the American Revolution, we're the British here. We're the superpower that went over to some other country and these guys -- you know, I would think if somebody came to our country and did that, we would defend it the same way.

KING: You're not rooting for them, are you?

MAHER: I'm not rooting for them at all. But I'm not saying that they are necessarily terrorists. Terrorists are people who specifically target civilians. That's the definition of terrorism, especially in our country. We're in their country.

KING: The idea of a draft?

MAHER: I think it's a great idea.

KING: You do?

MAHER: Sure. I'm too old to be drafted and I think it would even things out. You know, Mitt Romney has five sons. They were asking him about this recently.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: Why, if you're such a big supporter of the war, you know, if this is really a fight for our own civilization, if this is so important, how come none of your sons are going?

And, also, I think it would get people involved.

Why aren't there any demonstrations?

How come when I saw, when the iPhone came out I saw people who were camped out on the street for two days...

KING: To buy that.

MAHER: ...but they won't get their keisters out there to the Mall in Washington to demonstrate against the war in Iraq.

KING: Politics.

Giuliani is ahead.

Hillary is ahead.

Wouldn't that be something if we had...

MAHER: That's what I...

KING: ...two New Yorkers battling it out?

MAHER: Yes. It looks like that -- well, I wouldn't exactly say Hillary is a New Yorker.

KING: Well, she's been there long enough, wouldn't you say?

She's a senator twice elected.

MAHER: Yes, but she's not from New York.

KING: OK. A Chicagoan and a New...

MAHER: Yes, but it's two -- yes. Two representatives of New York. Well, I think that's what it's going to be.

KING: You do?

MAHER: Yes. At this point I do. I think it looks like Hillary is going to be pretty hard to beat.

KING: And will that be a close race this far off, do you think?

MAHER: Yes, because I worry very much that the right-wing has something on the Clintons that they're not releasing until the election, or they'll make something up. They'll have some bimbo come forward and then it really won't be Hillary's fault.

KING: But he's not running.

MAHER: He's not running, but you see the media is so shallow, that's all they will talk about. And that's all we will hear about. And then they'll blame Hillary for it. It really won't be her fault. It will be the fault of the Republicans for bringing that up...

KING: But Rudy also has...

MAHER: ...for manipulating...

KING: ...has some history, does he not?

And if the Democrats play fair game, how do you know they don't find something?

MAHER: I think his history is out on the table. I mean every time he has an affair, he marries her. Truly. I think he's more vulnerable on substance. You know, somehow he is the frontrunner in a Republican Party whose base is against everything he believes in socially. I mean he's pro-choice. He's pro-gay rights. He's pro- a lot of these things that they're against.

But the big ace card that he holds is terrorism. He's the big terrorism fighter. Because they haven't looked at that too carefully. And when they do, they'll find out that the score is terrorists 1, Rudy nothing. No, I'm sorry, terrorists 2, Rudy nothing, because they attacked the World Trade Center in '93, also.

KING: Bill Maher is our guest.

We'll include your phone calls.

We'll have e-mails, as well.

Don't go away.



MAHER: A new rule -- Rudy Giuliani has to bring the comb-over back. Americans haven't voted for a bald president since Eisenhower. Now here's Rudy without the comb-over.


MAHER: and here he is with it.




KING: We have an appropriate e-mail: "With the sixth anni" -- it's from Scott in Minneapolis -- "Bill, with the sixth anniversary of 9/11 four weeks from tonight, does it seem right or strange to you that Giuliani leads the GOP presidential field right now?"

MAHER: Well, like I say, he's Mr. Terrorism Fighter because he was in the city on that day.

KING: So he belongs (INAUDIBLE)?

MAHER: No, of course not, because it's not true. But, you know, Republicans, they're such sentimentalists. They purport to be these, you know, tough, macho realists. But really what they always fall for is that lump in the throat moment, you know, Rudy Giuliani on 9/11, the great hero. Bush with the bullhorn, you remember? You know, Condi Rice passing Bush the note that said Iraq is sovereign. It's on fire, but it's sovereign.

You know, Ronald Reagan morning in America.

The reason we didn't think we need a plan for Iraq...

KING: What did they say on the ship?

MAHER: Mission accomplished.

KING: mission accomplished. Yes.

MAHER: They didn't think they needed a plan for Iraq because they're sentimentalists. They thought we're Americans, we're bringing freedom to people, that's all you need. And that's why half the people who were assigned to go over to Iraq didn't even have a passport. They didn't think they needed people with experience over there. A bunch of them were from that Pat Robertson clown college that's -- that has staffed half this Bush administration.

KING: Mitt Romney -- can a Mormon be elected?

MAHER: Well, I don't think so, actually, because Americans take their faith very seriously, which is so silly and ironic, because one set of preposterous, ridiculous religious beliefs makes no more sense than the next. But, of course, since most people don't subscribe to the Mormon faith, they are a little suspicious of a guy who believes in something called celestial marriage, which means that if you're very good to your wife while you are married here on Earth, when you die, you and your wife get to rule over an entire planet, Larry.

You know, somebody once gave me a little certificate that says, you know, they can name a star after you.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: But in the Mormon religion, they actually give you the planet, not just a certificate, but the actual planet.


KING: Where is Fred Thompson going?

MAHER: I think he's probably going back to "Law and Order".

KING: You do?

MAHER: Well, you know, I think he's very popular now because he's not in the race.

KING: Good point.

MAHER: You know, he's -- he's -- they're not satisfied with that field. None of the above actually is leading the Republican field in the cur...

KING: Barack Obama. What do you make of him?

MAHER: Well, I like him.

KING: Everybody does.

MAHER: Yes. He's...

KING: On the quotient factor of likability, I think he leads everybody.

MAHER: Well...

KING: In likability.

MAHER: Yes. And he says some really good things, like we should fight the terrorists where they are.

Hillary Clinton, among others, have attacked him for saying maybe we should attack the terrorists...

KING: Pakistan.

MAHER: Pakistan. I call that the audacity of common sense. Attack them where they are, as opposed to going into Iraq, where they aren't. But, you know, he's very general, usually, about most things. I understand that that's how you get elected in America, but I would like to have a Democratic candidate at some point who made me say, wow! That's my champion on that issue. You know, gun control, the drug war, the environment, pulling out of Iraq. That guy is my champion. He's my hero.

Well, you know, Barack Obama is not quite doing that for me yet. Edwards is closer.

KING: We're going to move away from politics in a couple of moments.


KING: But we have an e-mail from Susan in Boulder, Colorado: "Why do you think the so-called pundits consider Dennis Kucinich unelectable? He makes a lot of sense and is not taken seriously."

MAHER: Right.

KING: Why not?

Because of the way he looks?



KING: No, really, he looks like a little guy, a little white guy.

MAHER: He looks like an elf.

KING: He looks like an elf, right.

MAHER: He looks like he's been helping Santa.

KING: Right.

Is that the reason?


I'm sure it doesn't help.


MAHER: But Rudy Giuliani, we were talking about the comb-over and the fact that America hasn't elected a bald president in a long time. He seems to be leading the pack.

I think all that stuff is overblown. I don't think Americans really, at the end of the day, care what a guy looks like or what celebrity supports him or any of that nonsense. They care if he actually says something. You know, I hear this all the time from politicians, especially in the primary season -- we're getting our message out.

They didn't hear our message, they say, if we lose.

What's the message?

You know, there's 10 guys up there on the Democratic debate platform and I don't understand why the guys in the bottom tier don't say something bold, because the message I'm getting from these guys is I want to be president. That's the only message I hear.

Dennis Kucinich, he actually has a message, which is that there's a left-wing in America. It may not be popular, but maybe if people would listen to it instead of dismiss it right away, they might find that they actually agree.

In your heart of hearts, do you really think that the Pentagon budget should be over $700 billion?

Because that money really, come on, it doesn't go to the defense of America. It goes to the defense of the defense industry in America.

Do you really think we should be spending all this money on ethanol?

How about a candidate who would lose the Iowa straw poll or the Iowa caucus by a record margin and wear that as a badge of honor and say, yes, that's right, I lost the biggest anybody ever lost in Iowa because I wouldn't pander to these farmers, because I'm going to tell you the straight poop, which is that ethanol is a scam to funnel more money to Archer Daniels Midland?

KING: We will take a break.

When we come back, we'll ask about the return, apparently, of Don Imus; about the troubles of Michael Vick; the passing of Merv Griffin and your phone calls, as well.

He returns, by the way, August 24th to "Real Time With Bill Maher," that program that he hosts on HBO.

We'll be right back.


MAHER: I do understand that any country that lets me run my mouth the way I do in public deserves to be saved.


MAHER: I'm trying. No, I do. I love America. It's Americans I can't stand...


MAHER: ...the people.



KING: We're back with Bill Maher. The death of Merv Griffin.

MAHER: Loved him.

KING: Me too.

MAHER: I did his show when I was first out here, young comedian. We all did.

KING: Yeah.

MAHER: And it was funny because it was sort of the anti-"Tonight Show." "The Tonight Show" was just nerve wracking. You'd get there and hear that Doc Severinsen Orchestra playing and you're immediately start ...

KING: Sweating.

MAHER: ... soiling your pants and Merv was just so relaxed. Remember that guy ...

KING: Good guy.

MAHER: Sweet guy, and he would -- Merv did -- he didn't work too hard, Merv. He did three shows -- he taped three shows in one day so he didn't have to work -- I think he only taped on two days so there was a 3:30, a 5:30 and a 7:30 and if you pulled that 3:30 show, who is available in the audience at a 3:30. It was bums and old ladies that they pulled in from Hollywood Boulevard, they were right up here, right near your studio and, you know, if you got the 3:30 crowd and you're 25 years old. I'm trying to do my hip material, I got the skinny tie and I got the sleeves pushed up.

KING: But he supported you.

MAHER: He would say in the break and he would say, ah, the crowd was stinky today, don't worry about that. He was like that. He was really a sweet guy.

KING: Imus and CBS have reached a settlement and apparently he's negotiating reportedly maybe to come back to a local station in New York. What do you think?

MAHER: I thought it was overblown to begin with, so I'm not surprised. You know, America has a way of just going crazy, out of control, buck wild, bat nuts about everything. We are such a nation of 10-year-old girls. No matter what happens we go oh no, this can't happen. We've got to get rid of that guy, made me uncomfortable for two seconds. Of course what he said was wrong, yadda, yadda. Let it go.

KING: Yeah.

MAHER: You know, I was offended. I'm offended by something every day because it's a stupid country and I read stupid things and, God, that's so stupid. You know what I do. I turn the page and I move on with my life.

KING: An e-mail question which leads us into the next subject from Mike in Richmond, Virginia. "I know you love animals and Playboy Bunnies -" a little line there.

MAHER: I get it.

KING: "Only kidding, Mr. Maher, but seriously do you think the media has made too much of the Michael Vick dog fighting case?" He may have to cop a plea here.

MAHER: You kind of are talking to the wrong guy about that because my big cause is animals, you know. It's the soft spot in my heart.

KING: Is that reprehensible what he's accused of doing?

MAHER: To me it's very reprehensible, and there is no excusing it, but that's me. Again, I'm a crazy animal nut, you know. I think ...

KING: What about those ...

MAHER: America -- I was actually amazed that America was so up in arms about that. America really loves its dogs. I mean, it is -- it has more hatred for Michael Vick than it had for O.J. Simpson and he killed his wife, but you know what? To me, that makes sense. Like I say, I'm a PETA board member. You just can't do that to ... KING: How about those who have umbrage against the breed, the pit bull. There are people who feel ...

MAHER: Baloney. You know what? Every dog is a great dog. I just got a Doberman recently, OK. Dobermans have the reputation as fierce, mean killers. Are you kidding? First of all, they look like fierce mean killers because people, stupid people, cut their ears off and they cut their tail off so they kind of look fierce, and can you make any dog into a mean killer by being crappy to it its whole life and it will be snarling and hateful.

This dog that I have, it has its tail, it has its ears and I -- I don't think I could count on this dog to be a watchdog. This dog would lick an intruder to death.

KING: Let's take a call. Florence, South Carolina, for Bill Maher. Hello.

CALLER: Mr. Maher, you made a great living barbing the Bush administration and that's all great and good, but how would you have handled the situation after 9/11? It's easy to armchair quarterback the Bush administration, but be a real man, be a big man and tell us how you would have handled it, no jokes, details.

KING: I think he said already he would have gone into Afghanistan, right?

MAHER: Of course, yes.

KING: Anything else?

MAHER: Well, let me reiterate the analogy I made. Yes, there was a cancer. Operating made it worse so treat it as a number of candidates have said, John Kerry was the first, but he's not the last. It is a law enforcement problem. It is a law enforcement operation, not every problem can be solved with the United States Army. This idea -- you know, the Republicans love to keep it simple. That's why Rudy Giuliani is so popular. He's a keep it simple kind of guy. We're fighting them over here so we don't have to fight them over here.

Well, it sounds good, but it means nothing. It's stupid. It's not the kind of an army -- first of all, there is no army. We're not pinning them down in Iraq so that they won't be able to fight them over here. There is no pinning down an army that is, A, amorphous, and, B, suicidal, so you have to treat it like a law enforcement operation.

You have to -- I say get Israeli about it, you know. The Israelis fight terrorism the smart way. They have brilliant secret service, special services. They have a great operation that, you know, profiles, excuse the term, but they do profile people before they get to an airport, before they even get to a country. This is how you fight this war. You don't fight it with an army.

KING: We go to Boston. Hello. CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yeah. Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes. Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Bill. How are you?

MAHER: Good.

CALLER: Good. I realize you spoke of the draft. My question is now that half of Bush's brains has resigned, Rove, do you feel that Cheney before he is impeached is planning on starting a war with Iran?

MAHER: I would say dreaming.

KING: You think he would like to start a war.

MAHER: I think he would like to start a war with almost anyone but I think time is kind of running out on that. First of all, start a war with what? You know, what army do we have?

KING: Who are you going to use?

MAHER: Exactly, so do I think Vice President Cheney would like to start a war? Probably, but I don't think he can and I don't think it's feasible at this point.

KING: Bill Maher has a documentary coming shortly. Everyone is looking forward to it. He's going to be in the movies. It's about religion. We're going to ask him about it right after this.



MAHER: The 12 million people here illegally, they are going to have to go back home to their home countries, touch base, pay a $5,000 fine and then reapply. Also, you have to prove you've never broken the law here or you can't get back in. So Alberto Gonzales is really screwed.


KING: He's funny. Bill Maher, he returns to HBO on Friday, august the 24th. By the way, "The Decider" I think is still being shown on HBO.

MAHER: I think it is. I noticed the billboard is still up on Sunset. That's my clue.

KING: Not bad. OK. Tell us about the upcoming documentary on religion. Does it have a title, because you once said religion is stupid. That's not the title, is it? MAHER: No, no, I was kidding. I think the title is requesting to be "Religulous."

KING: "Religulous."

MAHER: That's ridiculous.

KING: "Borat" guy director.

MAHER: That's right. Larry Charles, the brilliant Larry Charles who directed "Borat," he's the director.

KING: What's the concept? When does it come out?

MAHER: It should come out at Easter. I would like it out as soon as the time people are celebrating the space man's flying up to heaven.

KING: (inaudible)

MAHER: Oh yes. Absolutely. Lion's Gate is releasing it. I think it's going to unleash a great torrent of energy in support of this proposition.

KING: This is the atheist view of religion.

MAHER: Well, yes. It's certainly the doubter's view. How much of an atheist a person is, even I, who I'm not a believer, say, look I can't know. My main proposition is I don't know, and, therefore, if some other human being tells me or anybody else what happens when you die, my answer to them I don't know what happens when you die so how do you know? The answer is you don't know, so to purport to present yourself as someone who can tell in such great detail, and the detail is amazing, isn't it, about what happens when you die you?

We have to get away from a system of faith. Mitt Romney always says we need a person of faith in the White House. They all would say the same thing who are running for president. No, we need a person of doubt in the White House. Stop with the faith and start with the doubt.

KING: Where do you -- give me what I will see. Do you talk to religious leaders?

MAHER: Oh, we talk to everybody. We went everywhere. We went to every place where there's religion. We went to Vatican City and we went to Jerusalem and we went to Salt Lake City and, you know, I think I've insulted everybody, you know. It's across the board, and we got amazing access. I mean, we were ...

KING: Really?

MAHER: We were at the dome -- we were standing right next to the rock, the Dome of the Rock where Mohammed flew up to heaven. We were -- we were in that mosque, places they never filmed before. The Wailing Wall you're not allowed to have cameras, inside the Vatican. We just found out that even though the sign says you're not allowed to enter here there's so many tourists with cameras and such and nowadays when you make a documentary like this it's kind of guerrilla shooting. You don't need a big crew. You just pretend you're tourists and you're shooting and then can you make a movie.

KING: Is this like Michael Moore in a sense?

MAHER: I would never compare myself to Michael more because, first of all, he's a genius. He does what he does incredibly well, but I think ...

KING: This isn't that type?

MAHER: This is -- You know, I hope that people laugh -- we've shown 10 minutes. That's all we have so far. We're still cutting it together. But the 10 minutes that we've shown I've seen it shown to audiences twice. They laugh so hard because the topic of religion is just so inherently funny. I mean, politicians are funny because they promise things that they can never deliver on, and the gap between what they promise and what they deliver is great fodder for humor, as people from Mark Twain up into our own day have demonstrated but what religious people have promised, your own planet, come on, that's a little beyond Social Security.

KING: We'll get a break and be right back with more of Bill Maher. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He will host AC 360 at top of the hour. What's up, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, Larry. Coming up at the top of the hour, Don Imus rides again. Today he reached a settlement with CBS, he is getting a very healthy bank roll and he may be about to get a new on-air job. All of this, of course, after setting off a firestorm of controversy of what he said about the Rutgers women's basketball team. There's also late word that a member of that team is now suing Don Imus. We'll talk exclusively to the attorney bringing the case. We'll tell you exactly how much Imus is getting and we'll take your calls.

We're also going to take a look at massive recall of toys made in China because of lead paint and other dangers. Scary stuff. We're going to talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about lead poisoning and other symptoms to look for in your child. All that and more, Larry, at top of hours.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. AC 360, 10:00 Eastern and 7:00 Pacific. Tomorrow night we're live from Graceland with Priscilla Presley as co- host on the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley and then back here Thursday night with Senator John McCain. Don't go away.



MAHER: It's not really about Al Gore, you know what? It's not. It's about losing the polar ice caps and then the seas rising and then losing Venice and losing Holland and losing Manhattan and losing New Orleans and losing Florida, and that's why I believe Al Gore because if there's one thing he knows it's losing Florida.


KING: Funny stuff. That's from his special "The Decider" still on on HBO. Our guest is Bill Maher. I mentioned the fact that Senator McCain is our guest on Thursday. What happened with John McCain?

MAHER: Well, here's a guy who hated George Bush, for good reason after what he did to him in the 2000 election, the primaries, especially in South Carolina, and then he hitches his wagon to George Bush, you know. Instead of staying the outsider he thought this is the way I'm going to get the nomination so he hitched his wagon to a dumb president with a dumb plan. He got what he deserved but, you know, I don't think it would have mattered anyway because I think he's too old. I think he comes across as old. When you see him he looks like a 70-year-old man and I don't think America is going to vote against him.

If he ran against Barack Obama who is 45. Barack Obama would run the whole race in the track suit. He'd be running up the Capitol Steps in his commercials and he'd running through airports like O.J. I mean, he would run that election. I'm the young guy with vigor, the Kennedy guy and look at this old man and you can't win that way.

KING: With Bill Maher, Columbus, Ohio. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Bill. With all the economic growth in the past few years, what do you make of it that none of the presidential candidates wants to discuss the mounting credit card debt that the average American takes on each year and sites like, credit agencies and bankruptcy.

KING: It's never discussed.

MAHER: Right, again, this is my complaint about the Democrats. Where's my champion on this issue? You know, again, John Edwards comes the closest. He talks about the poor, but they always talk about how the Democrats raise taxes. Yeah, but the Republicans raise debt, you know, which is a deferred tax hike really. It's a tax hike. It's a cowardly tax hike. It's a tax hike on people who can't vote and be there to speak up and be against it at the time. And gosh who thought giving mortgages to people with no money would turn out to be a bad idea?

KING: Boy, was that a catastrophe.

MAHER: You think it's going to get worse? I pray every day that this is not going to -- I don't pray, of course.

KING: E-mail from Diana in Bowie, Maryland. "Mr. Maher, I love your show. What do you think of Michael Moore's documentary 'Sicko?'"

MAHER: Loved it. I remember when he was making it. He was talking to me about it, and he said that he thought he had his ultimate subject here, and I think he really does. I mean, it's funny. It's poignant. I'm a fan of all his movies, but I really felt that this was the one that matched his great talent as a filmmaker with the issue, at least the domestic issue of our time.

KING: Wrentham (ph), Washington. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Mr. Maher, it's an honor to speak with you.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: You're welcome. Do you believe Mr. Bush might ever be impeached and have you been working out.

MAHER: Have I been working out/

KING: He says have you been working out? He's interested in your health.

MAHER: Odd question from a man. But OK, look, Larry, I'm very secure in my masculinity, that doesn't bother me very much.

KING: Have you been working out in.

MAHER: I've always been working out, you know. It's always been a part of my regimen. What was the other question?

KING: Bush and impeachment. Too late?

MAHER: I think the clock is sort of running out on that one, but they could impeach Alberto Gonzales and they should.

KING: But as long as the president likes him.

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: You don't move.

MAHER: Again, where are my champions, the Democrats on this issue. They subpoena people and the Bush response is, oh, subpoenas are so pre-9/11. We don't answer subpoenas, you know. We make our own rules. You know, again, even when they don't do something that's exactly illegal, it's unprecedented in how just ballsy, excuse me, it is.

KING: Do the Democrats disappoint you?

MAHER: Yes, of course.

KING: Pelosi and Harry Reid?

MAHER: Yeah. I mean, the wire tapping, remember they were so mad at Bush's wiretapping that they legalized it. It's like when you run up your debt beyond what American Express says is the limit and then they raise your limit. It's the Democrat strategy.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bill Maher who is always on. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


MAHER: I flew in yesterday. I wish someone would just start fly at your own risk airlines. How about that? You can -- you can have your hair gel. You can have your lighter. You can have a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gun. How about that. You can show up at the gate five minutes before the plane leaves and pay in cash like in the good old 1980s.


KING: That was a great bit. A couple other quick things. Barry Bonds. Glad he ...

MAHER: Very glad. God, sports writers got to get over themselves. They just will not get off this guy's back. You know, what did Barry Bonds ever do? Steroids, yeah, I guess. Lots of guys did steroids. You know what? It's the steroids era. Get over it. First of all, they take these records so seriously. It's just a game. It's not fair. Nothing is fair. It wasn't fair that Babe Ruth didn't have to play against black players at all. That must have made it a lot easier. They used to have no relief pitchers. They used to not have night games. They used to play with little mittens. Remember the little mittens, Larry.

You know what ruined baseball much more than steroids, money. Money and the DH rule. How about getting rid of the DH rule and we'll worry about steroids.

KING: Are we going to get a good immigration law.

MAHER: I don't think they even care with immigration law. That's another one of those issues that's suddenly a crisis even though it's been ongoing.

KING: Bush appears pro-immigration, doesn't he to you?

MAHER: He appears pro getting the Latino vote. Yes, he's a lot more sensible about it than a lot of people in his party, I'll give him that, but now they are cracking down. I read in the paper the other day farmers around this country are saying you know what? You're going to put us out of business. We can't -- They want to have this law where if your Social Security number doesn't match what they send to the government you get deported. Well, that's the entire cast of characters that the farmers are having to pick their crops and I'm sure you read recently that the bees are dying off, right.

KING: Right.

MAHER: OK. The bees pollinate the crops. Without the bees we don't have crops. Now they are going to get rid of the bees and get rid of the Mexicans who pick the crops and we're going to starve ourselves to death by being so stupid.

KING: One more call, Jacket River, New Brunswick. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, how are you.


CALLER: Bill, if you could have any five people over for supper from anywhere who would they be.

KING: My mother used to say that, supper. Come over for supper.

MAHER: I've been asked that question my whole life and I'm never really am able to come up with a good answer. It's one of those cocktail questions but I've been trying to get Larry King over to my house for dinner for a long, long time.

KING: No one in history you would really like to sit down with.

MAHER: Larry King and Hitler and Jesus and Lincoln and Gandhi. That's my dinner.

KING: All right. HBO, Friday, August 24th, "Real Time" returns, any changes or the same format, you come out, you do your shtick, the crowd goes nut for three minutes until you can calm them down and then we have got a guest who is not there at location and then we got the panel comes out and then ...

MAHER: Basically. But I'm going to mix it up a little. I told my producers this year, I said, you know what. Act like I have six months to live. Book the show that way.

KING: Any guests booked for the opener yet?

MAHER: Not that I know of, you know, I'm -- another question I should know but I don't know.

KING: How many years has that show been on?

MAHER: Five years on HBO.

KING: Remember when it started.

MAHER: Can't believe it. Nine years with the old one, five years with this one. I -- I'm getting old, Larry.

KING: And are you still a fan of Ann Coulter.

MAHER: I haven't talked to her in a long time but I would say that nothing has happened personally between the two of us that would preclude us from still being friends.

KING: Thank you, Bill.


KING: Bill Maher. What can you say? He is back Friday, August 24, on HBO. Tomorrow night we'll be live from Graceland and as always, check out our Web site, We've got an Elvis quick vote and photo gallery for you or you can send an e-mail or a video question on upcoming guests. You can even download our current podcast, Paula Deen. It's all at

See you tomorrow night with Priscilla Presley live from Graceland. Right now Anderson Cooper and AC 360. Anderson?